Barlow Point Trail #709

Barlow Point Trail Is A Wonderful Combination Of History & Mountain Vistas!

Starting off on Barlow Point Trail, by Nels Rasmussen, D.C.

The Barlow Point Trail is not a long hike, only 1.2 miles, but a pretty steady climb. All the same this is a popular family hike. Starting elevation is 2360 feet, by the time you get to where the old Barlow Point Fire Lookout was, your elevation is 3200 feet. The trail starts you off with a walk through lush green forest. When walking through the trees you will notice several burned stumps of old giant trees. This is a recovering forest from a forest fire back in 1916. As you walk along this trail it is hard to imagine this forest was once destroyed by a raging fire, but the charred stumps are still there as a gentle reminder of how over time, nature can heal itself.

Looking down from Barlow Point at the Mountain Loop Highway continuing on to Granite Falls, by Martha Rasmussen

After a short walk at 0.3 mile you will see the Old Government Trail dropping down hill to the left. To get to Barlow Point keep to the right which will be a series of switchbacks climbing up the ridge. As you begin the switchbacks you will notice a large outcropping of volcanic rock from they early eruptions of Glacier Peak.

Spectacular mountain vistas, by Nels Rasmussen, D.C.

The switchbacks become shorter and shorter until you come to the rocky ridge on the top, this is Barlow Point. There is a leveled flat area which is where the old lookout once stood. This and a spot in the rocks where steel spike is still embedded is all that remains today. The Barlow Point Fire Lookout was built in 1935 and was a classic L-4 cab construction similar to the Fire Lookout at Miner's Ridge. When there was danger of lightning strikes or in the dry season, a Forest Ranger would climb the trail and look for signs of smoke. If he spotted some, he would head down to the Guard Station below, which is now where the parking area is today. The guard station had a radio and simple phone line to call in to the Ranger Station when a fire was sited.

The old lookout site, by Martha Rasmussen

It is easy to see why Barlow Point was chosen for a Fire Lookout. When you stand on the Ridge you can see the South Fork Sauk River to the east, the South Fork Stillaguamish Valleys to the west, the many rock slides of Sheep Mountain and Big Four Mountain all from one location. While you are enjoying the view remember to take a little time to look down, this is an excellent place to find Rock Penstemon in bloom.
Type of trail: USFS
1.2 miles
Elevation: 2,400 - 3,200
Level of difficulty: easy

Best seasons: Summer & Fall

Seasonal Interest:
  • Summer - wildflowers, vistas, wildlife
  • Fall - fall colors, vistas
General information:

History:  This trail begins at the site of the old Barlow Point Guard Station.  As you hike you come to the junction of the Old Government Trail which travels along the old railroad grade to Monte Cristo.  The trail ends at the old Barlow Point Lookout site.

Wilderness restrictions: No

Northwest Trail Pass required

Restroom: Vault toilet at trailhead

Bring drinking water

Getting there: From the Darrington Ranger Station, take the Mountain Loop Highway 23.4 miles to the trailhead at Barlow Pass.